Kordae Jatafa Henry directs ‘Delicate Limbs’ for Virgil Abloh, featuring serpentwithfeet.
Words from the Director
Kordae Jatafa Henry: I was invested in working with Virgil Abloh and serpentwithfeet to tell a story of a Black folklore. It was important for me to see gay Black men taking up space in the paradigm of love and life.
Through this process, I had to uplearn about Serpent’s experiences as a queer Black man growing up in Baltimore and how important it was for us to lean into this. I started to ask more questions about what Black fantasy could encompass, what worlds could we invent, and what atmospheres we already occupy.
I had never heard of works like the Conjure Woman written by Charles W. Chesnutt that started from old Negro spirituals. So a lot of this process was about embracing what I did not know and what I would be able to carry from these readings of other worlds, and what was already existing in the feeling of the music. What became clear was that we needed to find moments to create a space of joy and love even in a time filled with visible degrees of uncertainty. I ended the treatment with images of Kerry James Marshall works as a reminder that this film is about what happens when we simply “come together” – Fred Moten. This is where we started.
Serpent and I spoke about speculative folklore but more so about envisioning Black love in other worlds and in this one. Combining live-action with real-time animation to tell this story was really only an artifact of that process. The process of “coming together”.
The entire project is always oscillating in between uplift momentum and downward fall. For the past year or so I’ve been exploring this idea of using new animation tools for storytelling in a way to include a range of conversations into Black cinema. By no means can I say I’m close to answering that question of “Am I making it with this?” but at the very least I want to add to the conversation that includes a variety of tools that are available to young Black filmmakers. I’ve always admired Bradford Young’s ability to be technical but not rely on it, rather relying on his intentions and how being in the moment has more richness to the process even when it feels like creative free fall at the moment.
I heard someone once say that our work is always ahead of us. And I feel like this at this very moment. The work is starting to live in and breathe in its own way.